The Government wants to work with businesses to help them reduce their waste and increase recycling through voluntary responsibility deals, Environment Minister Lord Henley said today.
Working with businesses to put in place voluntary responsibility deals on waste will remove the need for further regulation and will lead to less waste and more recycling with the added benefits of businesses saving money and helping to protect the environment.
Visiting the SITA UK plant in the North East of England to see waste being converted into energy, Lord Henley said;
“As householders we all spend a lot of time trying to do the right thing with our waste and recycling, and rightly so.”
“But it’s equally important that businesses – both large and small – do the same. Twice as much waste comes from commerce and industry as from all households put together, so it’s critical that they play their part.”
“As Secretary of State Caroline Spelman made clear last month when announcing the review of waste policy, this Government believes that businesses, like householders, should be encouraged to do the right thing, rather than tied down or penalised with excessive rules and regulations”.
Lord Henley pointed to the good work carried out under existing voluntary agreements – such as the Courtauld Commitment on grocery retail packaging and food waste – as a model for what can be achieved in the future.
Working with businesses, the voluntary responsibility deals on waste will look to deliver change that works for businesses and their customers. By encouraging competition between signatories to achieve the outcomes and stimulate growth and innovation the changes can be delivered cost effectively.
Lord Henley said that a number of sectors were under consideration for possible voluntary responsibility deals in the future, and that
there would be close cooperation and active partnership with the businesses and sectors concerned in developing the deals.
“We see responsibility deals as an important part of drive towards a zero waste economy, and I hope that businesses will come forward with ideas and proposals for actions we can work together on.”
In a speech on 29 July at The Global Summit on Sustainability 2010 (National Liberal Club, London) Hon’ble Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat, Chairperson, Competition Appellate Tribunal (India) spoke extensively on the interaction between sustainability and competition law. He said:
“Law and society go hand in hand. With changing notions and shifting mind-patterns in the society, the Law must change and it must do so with social change. This has engendered a multi-disciplinary approach of law. Law, today, deals with different aspect in various fields of life and this interaction between two different fields requires intricate study of the interface in question…
“Sound economic analysis is necessary to take the right cases and the right decisions. It is crystal clear that sound economic analysis is central to competition policy. It is equally true that competition policy shapes fundamental economic decisions on investment, on consolidation and most significantly on pricing. …
“The interest in exploring the relationship between Law and Environment came from Global Warming and rising temperatures globally due to heavy pollution and Green House emissions. … Such is the magnitude of the problem. It is long overdue that policy changes be made and laws be enacted in order to promote development that is environmentally sound and customer friendly. …
It is crucial that nations across the globe integrate sustainable development goals into their competition regimes. Sustainable development law deals with the interface between social, economic and environmental law.
“A competition policy that is sustainably apt would take environmental factors into consideration along with the economic considerations on which it is based. It has often been seen that in the mad world of competition where everyone is running the rat race independent of his choice, one tries to sell its product and service at every cost. All methods are adopted to gain an unfair advantage over the competitor and cheap methods are adopted to increase profits. This often leaves resources scrupulously used and most of this is often wasted. …
“Around the world as an increasing number of countries move toward economic liberalization, there is renewed interest in adopting or modernizing Competition Laws.
“Markus W. Gehring in his article, ‘Competition for Sustainability: Sustainable Development Concerns In National and EC Competition Law‘, proposes three ways in which competition regimes across the globe can be made environmentally friendly that focus on sustainable development as one of its objectives. First, substantive international competition rules with sustainable development goals, though economic laws and disciplines may provide too blunt an instrument to achieve important social or environmental goals in many areas. Second, express exceptions or exemptions can be granted where these rules might limit the abilities of countries to use social and environmental measures. Third, enhanced application of competition rules may be negotiated, where fair competition favors small and medium size companies and more environmentally favorable effects.
“The first form is not very widely used. Only a very few countries, such as South Africa, have included substantive provisions to promote social development in their competition laws. Most countries adopt for some versions of the second form of sustainable competition law. Few countries’ laws are as outspoken about their public policy goals as is Spain in its new draft competition law. This new draft law explicitly lists environmental protection and social policies as grounds upon which the government could repeal a competition decision. The third form is relatively unproblematic as it creates a win-win situation for competition and sustainable development. Fostering further competition in certain markets could also be positive for sustainable development. Say for example, if particular global players hold a near-monopolistic position in an industry, and any small or medium sized enterprises were needed to encourage experimentation and make more sustainable technologies viable, competition law could achieve benefits. Again in the energy sector, global energy giants presently offer cheap, reliable fossil fuels by externalizing many public costs. This way they ‘crowd out’ smaller players who could viably develop new renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or small-scale hydro. Competition law and policy which breaks up or segments those markets would permit the small companies to make a profit, encouraging the development of these small scale alternatives. Competition has a significant international dimension. Global debates on sustainable competition law have only just begun. …
“Article 3 of the new TEU says that the EU shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on, among other things, a highly competitive social market economy. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently upheld a German law that guaranteed a certain percentage of the German energy market for alternative, renewable energy sources. The ECJ ruled that as renewable energy was a legitimate social goal, the measure would be exempted from European Union competition laws, which otherwise might have prevented the use of such policies. …
“[A survivable ecological economic system] entails maintenance of (1) a sustainable scale of the economy relative to its ecological life-support system; (2) a fair distribution of resources and opportunities between present and future generations, as well as between agents in the current generation, and (3) an efficient allocation of resources that adequately accounts for natural capital. We can only be certain we have achieved sustainability in retrospect. Sustainable policies and instruments are therefore those that we predict will lead to the achievement of the goal. …
“The aims of competition (anti-trust) laws are to ensure that consumers pay the lowest possible price, commonly called ‘the most efficient price’ coupled with the highest quality of the goods and services which they consume. This, according to current economic theories, can be achieved only through effective competition. Competition not only reduces particular prices of particular goods and services – it also tends to have a deflationary effect by reducing the general price level. It pits consumers against producers, producers against other producers (in the battle to win the heart of consumers) and even consumers against consumers (for example in the healthcare sector in the USA).”